Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The deserving rich

Government does too much for other people and not enough for us.

This belief is held by a fair percentage of the population, and it's a point of view expressed by somebody who, after all his years, ought to know better.

Last week, Orrin Hatch, the very con-servative senior senator from Utah, im-plied on the Senate floor that 51 percent of people in the United States who do not pay income taxes are somehow taking advan-tage of his friends, who are not poor.

In the world according to Hatch, only a handful of people is so miserably poor that they deserve some kind of help. These, he said, just need a job. The rest of those in the bottom half of incomes somehow need to put "some skin in the game." The ones on top are already doing enough.

Is Sen. Hatch really implying that more should be done for the "deserving" rich? Perhaps the rest of us might do our part by delivering them food baskets at Christ-mas? Or seeing that their tots get toys so they have something to play with on those long flights to the Caymans?

Just because one job no longer pays enough to cover a decent living standard, in Hatch's world there is no excuse for suggesting that those who make their money from investments might be able to afford to pay the same level of taxes as those who collect a paycheck.

Sen. Hatch's comments were a mixture of nonsense and meanness that does not befit someone of his tenure as a public servant. They suggest not so much any legitimate concern over tax policy or pub-lic programs as they do a lot of anxiety about his upcoming Republican primary challenge in Utah.

In 2010, he watched his friend and col-league, Sen, Robert Bennett, one of the most conservative and respected members of the U.S. Senate, get knocked out of office by Tea Party activists. Hatch is not yet ready to give it up his seat so easily.

Throughout his career, Sen. Hatch has been willing to cross party lines in order to arrive at legislative solutions. At age 77, he ought to be willing to risk defeat to re-main consistent with a record that is con-servative, but not bizarre.

It's sad to see someone of his age and stature willing to pander with outrageous comments to the most extreme elements of his political party rather than speak and lead in ways that allow the government to work for everyone.

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